search button
newscenter logo
Thursday, June 1, 2023

Follow SDSU Follow SDSU on Twitter Follow SDSU on Facebook SDSU RSS Feed

Long uses hip-hop to help students grasp marine biology concepts.

7 Things About Jeremy Long

Jeremy Long's love for marine biology inspires students to help conserve coastal environments.
By SDSU News Team

Jeremy Long is an assistant professor in San Diego State University's Biology Department.

An active member of SDSU's Coastal and Marine Institute and Laboratory, Long's research focuses on understanding marine communities, including estuaries, rocky shores, pelagic zones and kelp forests.

"I have been extremely pleased with the quality of my students at SDSU," Long said.

1. What inspired you to do this kind of work?

Inspirational mentors. I started at the University of San Diego as an undeclared student. To satisfy a general education requirement, I took a class called “chemistry and society.” The instructor brought science to life and empowered me. She engaged. She made me laugh. My experience contrasts with some colleagues I have met that knew they wanted to be a scientist at birth.

For example, I have a friend who, at age 4, said that she wanted to go on the submersible, Alvin, and then proceeded down the science path and went on Alvin later in life. I don’t think either experience is right or wrong — just interesting to see the difference.

I was attracted to marine science because of my connection to the ocean. I bodyboarded in junior high and high school. One of my high school electives at San Dieguito High School in Encinitas was surf physical education. My subsequent marine biology instructors at USD were very supportive and interesting.

Because many of my instructors were graduates from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, I was able to line up internships there. Those experiences were very valuable because I was able to put textbook learning into practice. Because I volunteered, I was able to assist a team on a six-week research cruise in the Antarctic. If that doesn’t hook someone, I’m not sure what would.

I have a ton of people that inspired my interest in linking science with music videos. At the top of the list are Randy Olson and Chris Emdin. Randy was a tenure track marine ecologist turned film maker and faculty at University of Southern California film. Chris is a professor at Columbia University who is pioneering the Science Genius movement that empowers under-represented students to talk about science and consider science careers, all under the umbrella of hip-hop.

2. How long have you worked at SDSU?

I've been at SDSU since 2009, but I did take a physics course at SDSU about 20 years ago.

3. What is the best piece of advice you ever received?

My postdoctorate adviser, Geoff Trussell, often emphasized that a science career was “a marathon, not a sprint.” The spirit of this comment was to consider one’s lifetime contributions to science as opposed to individual successes or failures. That balanced perspective kept me in check on many occasions, and I think has set me up to have a fulfilling science career.
4. What is your favorite thing about your job?

I really enjoy conducting experiments with students. During these times, I get to share the experience of discovering answers to new questions. This is also an opportunity for me to share my research “tricks of the trade” that can be hard to identify in a traditional classroom setting.

5. What about your field or position do you think would surprise people the most?

Most people are surprised when I describe the intellectual freedom of an academic scientist, which is funny because this is exactly why I chose this field. We get to observe nature, think of interesting questions, design and conduct experiments to answer these questions and then share our results with a broader audience. Obviously, there are some restrictions (the research needs to be fundable and publishable), but this freedom is key to scientific discovery.

6. What is the most interesting or surprising thing about you?

Hip-hop saved my life — seriously. Most people live with a lot of stress and academics are no exception. After a physical exam a few years back, my doctor encouraged me to identify strategies to reduce stress. On a whim, I took a hip-hop cardio class. The class provided an outlet for stress, kept me physically active and improved my mindfulness. I have been regularly attending classes ever since.

7. If you could only rescue one thing from your burning office, what would it be?

My multi-picture framed and signed portraits of my graduate alumni. My first master's student, Renee Dolecal, gave this to me at her graduation. There are spots for 21 pictures. At graduation, each student gives me a signed photo of them and me, and I add this to the frame. Currently, there are still 19 slots available (I have graduated two masters students), but this object is priceless.


1. What is your favorite kind of music/what are your favorite bands?

Anything electronic with a beat that is danceable. Hip-hop holds a special place in my heart. The funny thing about hip-hop is that I missed much of the golden era (mid-to-late 1990s). A lot of my collection is super old school (Gangstarr, Eric B and Rakim, Tribe Called Quest and Run DMC). But my lapse in hip hop is kind of fun because I now get to experience some of the best music of this genre (Wu-Tang Clan and Biggie) for the first time. But I also like to write grants and proposals with a good house/dub groove in the background.

2. What is your favorite sports team or who is your favorite individual athlete?

My favorite athlete is Shaun White. I enjoy snowboarding (I'm still smiling from New Year’s Day trip to Mountain High) and White takes this sport to another level. But I most respect White's off-slope presence. I don’t know him personally but he appears to have a positive attitude and he appears to make smart decisions. So, although I am 10-plus years his senior, I consider him a hero.